The Wang Shi Yuan, meaning the 'Garden of the Master of the Fishing Nets', is one of the smallest of the Suzhou gardens. In contrast to the Yuan Ming Yuan with its seventy-mile circumference, it covers almost exactly one acre. It lies in the southern part of the city, well within the encircling walls, on a site which has been a garden since 1140. Unlike most other gardens still preserved, it is attached to a large house, now empty but open to visitors, which has double-storey rooms surrounding three courtyards.
The whole garden is in a sense a composition of courtyards. Some wind round corners out of sight. Others are half open-ended. Some are cut off like cul-de-sacs, or fit into each other like pieces of puzzle. The total effect is of a labyrinth, with spaces layered round each other... This is partly why the extreme simplicity of the first impressions is so important. The blank purity of the alleyway entrance sharpens the visitor's responses in preparation for the various effects he will encounter in the following courtyard.
Library and study rooms are an integral part of nearly all Chinese gardens. Their owners' time was often spent writing poetry and practising calligraphy, often in the company of friends, and no garden worth its trees lacked a suitable study pavilion. Such rooms were usually secluded and surrounded by their own private courtyards to protect reader and give him a pleasant prospect on which to look out.
It is this part of the garden that is really its heart. The fairly small pond, roughly edged with rock, is made to seem larger because its irregular shape cannot be seen all at once. Around it are grouped halls and summer houses, some set back behind rocks or terraces, some right at the water's edge.
- Keswick, Maggie. (2003). The Chinese Garden: History, Art, and Architecture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 24-32
Keywords: China, Jiangsu, Suzhou, garden, courtyard, classical, stone bridge, transportation structures, footbridge, landscape. Submitted b
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